Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 129-146

First online:

Sexual Harassment: A Matter of Individual Ethics, Legal Definitions, or Organizational Policy?

  • Joann KeytonAffiliated withDepartment of Communication, University of Memphis
  • , Steven C. RhodesAffiliated withDepartment of Communication, University of Memphis

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Although interest in business ethics has rapidly increased, little attention has been drawn to the relationship between ethics and sexual harassment. While most companies have addressed the problem of sexual harassment at the organizational level with corporate codes of ethics or sexual harassment policies, no research has examined the ethical ideology of individual employees. This study investigates the relationship between the ethical ideology of individual employees and their ability to identify social-sexual behaviors in superior-subordinate interactions. The results indicate that ethical ideology does have an effect on employees' ability to identify verbal sexually harassing behaviors. This effect, however, is not demonstrated on nonverbal sexually harassing behaviors.